Coaching is an exceptionally effective way of helping leaders at all levels fulfil their potential. Leadership is about getting the best out people; inspiring people, enabling them and keeping them focused. And leadership is hard work, and can at times be stressful. Work often takes over in life; balance is lost and the leader under pressure can lose perspective. And when this happens to us, we can rarely see our situation objectively. When life is good it tends to be balanced, with health, fitness, relationships and hobbies all supporting a successful and happy working life. Under pressure most people work longer, and perhaps harder, although the effectiveness of their output is rarely improved and certainly not fir sustained periods. And in such times of pressure, fitness, hobbies and relationships suffer, and over time health is often impacted. But the link between well-being and effectiveness is clear; I see coaches gain effectiveness as they gain fitness. The link is clear and strong; when we are happy in life and in good health, we have the capacity to deal with complexity. A good healthy diets fills the body, and especially the brain with the quality fuel that is required to provide energy and support good health. This is important, if we eat well we think better, and if we exercise we feel better and are better placed to deal with adversity and complexity. The quality of the fuel is really important; free range food and organically grown products contain the nutrients that allow us to perform well. Factory food with added sugar makes us sluggish and slows our thinking But how do we know when our lives are out of balance, or we are eating badly? How do we know when our stress reactions are excessive and when we are over-reacting to situations? Well that is where coaching comes in; an external coach can help us look objectively at our own situation, and help us to retain a healthy perspective on situations and other people. The coach isn’t an adviser, although I am sure that a degree of professional experience gives the coach the depth of understanding to empathise and ask the right questions, but really the coach allows the coaches to see themselves and their situation for what it is. People I have worked with have become noticeably, and in many cases dramatically more effective at work as a direct result of coaching, but in many cases much of our discussion has been around aspects of their personal lives; relationships, exercise and eating. The idea that work can somehow be kept separate from the whole person seems increasingly ridiculous to me – life is a holistic and to be happy and capable at work, there must be deep foundations across all aspects of life. I have noticed many times in recent years that the word ‘professional’ is often used as a defensive device in bureaucratic workplaces; the implication being that in some sort of Brechtian way an individual can fulfil their workplace function in a way that is discreet from their real self. They can turn up and deliver, and often this is used to justify barriers between people in the workplace; it being unprofessional to form friendships at work. This is just nonsense; relationships and friendships are vital if work is to be meaningful and rewarding. So leaders have to be themselves, connect with others, and treat work as part of their whole life, and not something that sits alone. Connection is important.